Pfizer Settles B.Y.U. Lawsuit Over Development of Celebrex

By The Associated Press, The New York Times  Published:  May 1, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Pfizer has settled a lawsuit filed by Brigham Young University, over development of the blockbuster painkiller Celebrex, for $450 million, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in an announcement by the drug company and the university, which the Mormon Church owns, in Utah.

However, Pfizer said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was taking a $450 million charge against first-quarter earnings to settle the case.

Brigham Young and Pfizer battled for six years over the discovery of an enzyme that led to the development of Celebrex, a breakthrough in the treatment of arthritis and inflammation. A jury trial had been set to start May 29 in United States District Court in Salt Lake City.

Brigham Young had sought a 15 percent royalty on sales of Celebrex, or about $9.7 billion. The university also could have sought billions of dollars more in punitive damages and interest.

Brigham Young’s lawsuit said a chemistry professor, Daniel L. Simmons, discovered the genetic workings of the drug in the early 1990s. It accused Pfizer of violating a research agreement the university made with predecessor companies.

As part of the settlement, Brigham Young plans to endow a Dan Simmons Chair in recognition of his lifelong work advancing human health.

In court filings, Brigham Young said it had a research agreement with the Monsanto Company, later acquired by Pfizer, for the development of a “super aspirin,” a drug that could reduce pain and inflammation without gastrointestinal effects. Mr. Simmons claimed to have discovered an enzyme that caused those side effects, and the new drug works to disable it.

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